Shifting Gears

KENNESAW, Ga. | May 3, 2019

Engineering student finds home on KSU’s two campuses

As a highly-recruited soccer player at Allatoona High School, Ashtah Das promised herself she wouldn’t commit to a university that didn’t offer engineering programs.

She received interest from Dartmouth College and took an official visit to Virginia Tech, both of which are regarded for their engineering schools, but it was nearby Kennesaw State University that made her feel most at home. This month, she will graduate from Kennesaw State’s Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering and Engineering Technology with a degree in mechanical engineering before attending medical school.

“From the moment I stepped on campus, this just felt like a place where you can be what you want to be,” Das said. “It’s been the right decision for me, and being in the engineering program has given me confidence to take on new challenges.”

Ashtah Das

Recently, she joined other engineering students in traveling to Littleton, Co., to compete in the Fluid Power Vehicle Challenge, a national competition that tasks engineering students nationwide to redesign a traditional bicycle using hydraulics as the mode of power transmission. It marked the first time Kennesaw State was represented at the event held by the National Fluid Power Association.

The competition wouldn’t be the only time Das made her mark on the University. As a member of the soccer team, she spent most of her time outside of the classroom training at the athletic facilities on the Kennesaw Campus. Between 2014 and 2017, she battled injury but played nearly 60 matches scoring six goals for the Owls, earning a spot on the Atlantic Sun All-Conference second team her senior year while maintaining a 3.79 GPA. At the time, her player profile on the KSU athletics website stated that she came to Kennesaw State to continue “building the reputation of the school.”

At the conclusion of her athletic career, her focus turned solely on completing her engineering degree on the Marietta Campus.

“Her workload and time management was like none other,” said KSU women’s soccer coach Benji Walton. “I loved her drive and wish that all my players could find that same type of passion for whatever they invest themselves in, whether that is soccer or their calling in life. Ashtah is a testament for what dedicating yourself to hard work can deliver for you."

Das tailored her undergraduate experience to focus on biomechanical engineering after being inspired by Lori Lowder, interim associate dean of the engineering college whose research focuses on biomechanics. As an athlete, Das felt particularly capable of understanding the theories behind natural movement and sought engineering as a major since problem solving was a component.

While taking rigorous courses, she served as a research intern at Piedmont Hospital’s Cardiovascular Department, which allowed her to observe surgical procedures using biotech devices, and also conducted research using a vibrometer to gather data on the stiffness in arm muscles and tendons.

As a former student-athlete, Das said she is uniquely positioned to take on future challenges in the engineering and medical fields.

“I’ve worked on a team my entire life and I’ve known how to perform under pressure,” she said. “I’ve learned to never give up and to work through frustrations. Since coming to Kennesaw State, I’ve really developed as a person.”

– Travis Highfield

Photos by David Caselli

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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit